Friday, May 7, 2010

An Evening with Regina Brett


A few months ago, our local paper, The Plain Dealer, featured excerpts from a book written by one of its columnists (one of my personal favorites) - Regina Brett. Based on those excerpts, I ordered the book from the library. I am not a big buyer of books. I read them once and I return them. That works for me.

So I got my email from the library that the book had arrived, and I went to get it. Even though I was in the middle of some great trashy magazines (hey, I write technical stuff all day; I'm entitled), I started on this book immediately.

Then my friend Sharon invited me to The Gathering Place to hear Regina speak. What a perfect setting. The Gathering Place in Cleveland is a place for those who have been touched by cancer. In its own words, "the mission of The Gathering Place is to support, educate and empower individuals and families touched by cancer through programs and services provided free of charge. We are proud to recognize our decade of celebrating life."

Sharon recently went for a tour and tried Reiki and plans to go back to try other programs.

We went together last night to hear Regina speak. And what a wonderful evening it was. Regina is a breast cancer survivor, so it was fitting that she would speak at this support center.

A woman in her 50s who looks like she's about 16, Regina has packed a lot into her life. And she chronicles everything in "God Never Blinks - 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours." The fact that she refers to the events in her life as "little detours" kind of says it all.

Regina describes herself as "one of those broken souls." Raised in a Catholic home with 10 other siblings, she became an unwed mother at age 21 and raised her daughter on her own. She found the love of her life and married him at age 40. At 41, she became ill with breast cancer.

This book describes her journey.

She is a survivor. She could have easily felt sorry for herself, but she didn't. She continued to move forward through every challenge. She talks about the "chemo shower" her friends gave her, giving her hats, scarves and earrings. Every event that could have been a cause for a pity party became a celebration of sorts.

One of my favorite stories in her book was when she decided to create a gift for her husband's 40th birthday by asking 40 of his friends to write a letter to him. "Most of them ended up saying what is most difficult to say in person, what is often never said in person." She presented the collection to him on his birthday. And he said "most people don't ever get to know how people feel about them. This is the kind of stuff they say at your funeral."

Everything about this book and about Regina is a celebration; learning difficult life lessons; understanding that there will always be ups and downs; and knowing things will always get better.

I bought the book for Sharon. And I recommend it to present as a gift to anyone who is going through rough times.

22 comments:

Sharon said...

Thank you for coming with me to this event, and thank you SO much for the book. I'm not as much as a library person as you are - you know how much I enjoy owning books - especially an autographed one like this!

I have to say that hearing Regina speak was one of the best things that has happened to me since my diagnosis. I was both inspired and uplifted by her words, and I felt better today, and more optimistic, than I have in months. I kept remembering her lessons and I can't wait to read more of them.

What an amazing woman she is, and what a great story she has to share.

Jenny said...

What a great recommendation. I haven't heard of this author or this book but I will check it out. She sounds amazing.

Thanks!

Cheryl said...

What an inspiring post about an inspiring woman. Thanks for sharing her with us.

fullsoulahead.com said...

Wow. That sounds like an amazing event with an amazing woman! I will be recommending her book for sure.

Jeanie said...

I'm glad she surpassed even your own expectations! Sounds like an amazing speaker and wonderful book. I love the idea of the chemo shower. I hope I won't have to do that for anyone, but it's a great idea in case I do.

I suspect although her book is specifically about cancer, many of the lessons apply to lots of different illnesses. She sounds remarkable.

Anonymous said...

A true gift, from a true friend to a true friend. How wonderful~

aom

Christine said...

Bonnie, Thank you so much for mentioning this book! I am looking forward to reading it and will stop at the library to get it, this week. (I'm a huge library fan too)

I so especially loved the part you mentioned about Regina making her hubs bday so special. What an awesome idea! I'm going to keep that in my toolbox for future reference:)

Brooklyn Book Lover said...

I love the idea about the letters. My husband will be 40 next month and since we are on such a tight budget I was racking my brain for a meaningful but inexpensive gift. I know he will love to receive the letters. I plan on going to the library today and reserving a copy of this great book. Regina Brett sounds like an amazing woman.

Brooklyn Book Lover said...

My copy of the book just arrived at the library. :-)
I look forward to reading it this weekend. Have a happy and safe holiday everyone!

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